THE VICTORIAN Government has announced $12 million for a new glasshouse and incubation hub to be built at the Horsham Grains Innovation Precinct, in the Wimmera region.
Announced as part of the 2022-23 Victorian Budget released on Tuesday, the project will focus on supporting grain industries to diversify into the plant-based protein market.
The new glasshouse will help to advance research and innovation in plant varieties that are climate resilient, have higher protein content and support the growing demand for plant-based foods including those made from lentils, chickpeas, field peas and almonds.
Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas said this facility will help scientists and growers meet the demand for varieties high in protein.
“As demand for plant-based proteins continues to increase, we are helping our scientists fast-track research into breeds that can be targeted to new markets and consumers, while boosting more jobs in regional Victoria,” Ms Thomas said.
The Horsham site is already home to two new glasshouses, supported by an additional $10 million co-investment partnership with the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC).
The project replaced six 50-year-old glasshouses to accelerate the delivery of more profitable lentil and field pea varieties for Victorian growers.
GRDC managing director Nigel Hart said the glasshouses will also support additional research.
“Through our partnership with the Victorian Government, the recently completed glasshouses will accelerate solutions to some of Victoria’s grain growers’ most pressing constraints such as drought, frost, disease and pests,” Mr Hart said.
Western Victoria is a major producer of crops, such as, lentils, faba bean, field peas and canola that can be used in plant-based protein products.
Once complete, the glasshouse complex will help maximise the region’s capabilities and opportunities to tap into new markets, support jobs and boost future investment.
The glasshouse will also support innovation at a new Science and Business Incubation Hub — a space where Agriculture Victoria, entrepreneurs and industry can come together to collaborate and explore product opportunities for plant-based proteins.
The hub will include a collaboration space to house commercial start-ups and attract and secure postgraduate students, as well as offering facilities such as a test kitchen and analytic equipment to explore opportunities for alternative proteins.
Source: Victorian Government